By LTC Jeanette Griffin, WTC Stratcom
After more than five months of planning, organizing, and collaborating with the Sumter community and Third Army/ARCENT, 12 wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers and Veterans traveled across the country to train and compete for places on the Army Warrior Games team on March 12 -16 in Sumter, South Carolina.
The first archery selection clinic was conducted January 31- 5 February in Sumter, only the top eight archers from both recurve and compound bow competitions will earn a spot on the team.
“During the first clinic, 18 shooters came to Sumter with hopes of wearing the Army colors in this year’s Warrior Games,” said retired SFC Steven Coleman, the Warrior Games Army archery coach. “Of these 18, eight Soldiers were selected to return to the second clinic, and four more athletes were added to represent the Warrior Games Army archery team.”
These Soldiers are competing in hopes of being one of 50 athletes representing the Army during the 2012 Warrior Games starting next month in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“I feel that this clinic really helped me increase my ability to shoot as well as my mental ability to perform at a higher level,” said AW2 Veteran Jessie White. “The local community of Sumter has given amazing support while we were here.”
The list of supporters include American Legion Post 15, American Whitetail, Coca-Cola, Crossroads Archery, Dartfish, Elk’s Lodge, Gamecock Body Shop, Hansen International, emWave, and Third Army/ARCENT.
The offer of support to this effort began with the American Legion Post 15’s agreement to allow the Army archery participants to use the Agriculture Building located in the Sumter County Fairgrounds, in Sumter, South Carolina for the first clinic held on January 31 to February 5, and the final qualification clinic that was conducted on March 12 -16.
“The American Legion served breakfast every morning, a few Legion members treated the team to a lunch, and the Ladies Auxiliary of the Legion cooked and served dinner,” said Coleman.
Since Third Army/ARCENT recently moved from Fort McPherson, Georgia to Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina, Coleman’s dad, retired SGM Billy Coleman decided that they should visit Third Army/ARCENT to inform the organization that the Army archery clinic was scheduled to be held just a few miles from the base.
This meeting resulted in Stephenie Tatum, the Third Army/ARCENT media and community relations specialist, and SGM Fletcher the Third Army/ARCENT Public Affairs sergeant major and their team providing media support, committed military support, medics, and combat lifesavers during the clinic.
On Thursday, March 15, more than 30 Sergeants Majors and Directorate Chiefs assigned to Third Army/ARCENT conducted their weekly staff meeting at the Sumter State Fairgrounds. After the meeting, several of the leaders posed for photos and mingled with the Soldiers and Veterans participating in the clinic extending words of encouragement and support.
“Overall, I felt that this was an excellent clinic,” said SGT Monica Southhall from CBWTU-Virginia. “I look forward to more clinics like this in the future.”
The archery clinic was an opportunity to get the community informed, involved, and excited about the Army’s archery team competing during the 2012 Warrior Games. All the support provided by the Sumter community and Third Army/ARCENT was greatly appreciated and without a doubt, this was an outstanding clinic for everyone.
“Thanks to the outstanding support of the Sumter County community and several organizations, we have had two very successful clinics in Sumter County,” said Coleman. “These organizations made it their mission to provide care and support for all of the Soldiers participating in the WTC archery clinics.”